Students and alumni, who launched the tech startup company called Mallard Bay, were the first entrepreneurs from LSU to compete in the world’s largest student startup competition, the Rice Business Plan Competition, and took home more than $200,000 in prizes earlier this week.
“We left the competition with clarity in our growth plan and a variety of contacts to help us grow our business,” said co-founder and Chief Growth Officer Joel Moreau, who is completing his master’s degree in finance at LSU next month.
After three days of pitching and competing against some of the brightest and most ambitious collegiate entrepreneurs in the world, Mallard Bay, won $141,500 in cash investments and $75,000 in in-kind services including $500 for the best consumer elevator pitch.
Mallardbay.com is an online booking platform that connects outfitters and charters with people looking to book hunting and fishing trips across North America. The concept was inspired by founder and president Logan Meaux (LSU ’21) after a failed booking experience while planning a guided hunting trip for his dad, Chris Meaux, the founder of the online food delivery platform, Waitr.
“I’ve been a sportsman for the last 18 years, and I knew I wanted to start a company in an industry that I knew and loved,” Meaux said.
He then set out to streamline the process for booking guided trips for fellow outdoors enthusiasts – while building the tools guide services need to better manage their businesses. In building the team, he drew upon the talent and opportunities at LSU. Mallard Bay’s team is comprised of LSU business and computer science students and alumni.
“Through the LSU entrepreneurship program, we were given the opportunity to pitch in the Venture Challenge and gather the initial funding and strategy to launch our platform. We got assistance from graduate students who helped with market research and some of our first meetings were in the Business Education Complex on campus,” said Moreau, who is originally from Lafayette.
Mallard Bay launched in November 2021 and has garnered significant early traction including adding more than 120 outfitters and charters to the platform. Now, the company has offices at LSU Innovation Park.
“We may be the first business from LSU to be in the Rice Business Plan Competition, but we aren’t the last. I’m glad we got to open the door to show other Louisiana startups that they can participate in the largest startup competition in the world too,” said Mallard Bay Director of Business Wyatt Mallett, who will graduate with his bachelor’s degree in sports commerce at LSU in July.
Waitr was developed in the living room of Mallett’s childhood home in Lake Charles, where he grew up with Meaux. The two friends were Waitr delivery drivers as teenagers and then were promoted to dashboard managers, where they learned customer service.
Previously, Moreau was a venture capital intern with Louisiana Funds, which helps with funding for local startups. He also worked in San Francisco at a technology investment bank, FT Partners, that helps high-growth technology companies get funding, an opportunity he received from being a student at LSU.
“It’s always been my dream and ambition to be part of a startup, and it’s a blessing to pursue this dream in an exciting industry alongside a great team,” Moreau said.
A majority of their new funding will go towards the growth and development of the platform.
“We have an ambitious roadmap with the aims of making it easier for sportsmen to browse and book directly with quality guide services across North America,” Moreau said.
They also plan to invest in their sales and marketing team.
“We’ve been sportsmen all our lives, and we understand that these trips are about more than the kill or the catch. They’re about the memories made, stories told and experiences had on each adventure,” Moreau said. “Our goal is to allow sportsmen and guides to focus more on that experience and less on the details of booking and paying for these guided trips. So, visit Mallardbay.com to find your next guided adventure for your company, your friends or your family.”